Northamptonshire site manager uses his construction skills to help children in Uganda

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The volunteers who took part in the trip with The Abode Project in Uganda in front of The Abode Junior School

Submitted by Bellway

A school in Uganda now has a special needs center thanks in part to the efforts of a Northamptonshire site manager. Ross Jenkins put his building skills to good use on a recent trip to Kabale, Uganda as part of a team of 46 volunteers working on Project Abode.

The 35-year-old, from Northampton, Northamptonshire, has been working to improve facilities at The Abode Junior School, which has 120 children. His participation in the trip was partly funded by Bellway, who donated £350 and co-funded the money Ross raised to help him reach his £2,000 goal.

Ross said: “The work we did in the primary school started almost immediately – we created the framework for two more classrooms, and we finished and opened the special needs centre. The completion of the Special Needs Center was a big reason for my visit to the school and a big reason for me to go on the trip in the first place.

“In Uganda, children with disabilities are often not accepted by society and hidden away by their parents in their homes. This center will give parents a place to drop off their children while they go to work and give children a place to get away from it all – it will make a huge difference in the lives of so many people.

Work carried out during the voyage included rendering, digging of foundations, masonry and carpentry. The group also redecorated the school’s other five classrooms with a fresh coat of paint and instructional artwork.

The Abode Project is a non-profit organization aimed at helping children in East Africa by providing educational facilities and medical care as part of a long-term sustainability program.

Ross and other volunteers create the setting for two more classrooms at the school.

Ross said: “The people we met there were amazing. Some of the children had next to nothing but what they had they were willing to share. Everyone was happy, even with the bare minimum. It really made us appreciate everything I have at home and made me realize how much we take things for granted in everyday life.

“There are around 120 children registered for the school, but as the trip was during school holidays, there were only 40 children present when we were there. These 40 children were all single or double orphans and are full-time boarders at school.

“All the children welcomed us singing songs and throughout the first day we played music and had a mini sports day. We did the three leg race, wheelbarrow race and played football – it was a great way to get to know the kids.

Of the 120 children attending the school, 100 of them had godparents before the covid-19 epidemic, the godparents paying for their uniform, school fees, food and books, but since the pandemic, 80 of these sponsors have withdrawn.

Ross continued, “These kids really need our help. I sponsored a little girl when I was there but there are so many more children without sponsors. When I got home I felt a sense of guilt about how much money we waste and how much importance we give to things that don’t really matter.

“You realize there are bigger problems in this world. There’s a real sense of community there, everyone is looking out for each other, and I can’t wait to get back there. .”

More information about the Abode project is available here.

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